Sophomore goaltender Casey DeSmith stopped 47 shots for the Wildcats
BOSTON, Mass. - The Northeastern men's ice hockey (7-13-3, 4-11-3 Hockey East) ran into a red-hot goaltender in Casey DeSmith and his 47 saves as the Huskies dropped a 3-1 decision to No. 3 New Hampshire on Friday night at Matthews Arena.
Senior captain Vinny Saponari extended his point streak to five games (3-3-6) with his fifth goal of the season while rookies Kevin Roy and Colton Saucerman provided the help.
Fourth-year goaltender Chris Rawlings returned for the Huskies and stopped 24-of-27 Wildcat attempts to slip to 7-8-1 on the season. Northeastern outshot New Hampshire, 48-27, marking NU's second highest shot total of the season.
The first period finished scoreless, despite both squads missing good chances by mere inches on each end. Senior Steve Morra had a clean chance between the circles and tried to beat DeSmith with a low snapshot, but UNH's goalie stoned Morra with the grab.
New Hampshire's Grayson Downing ended the scoreless affair by throwing back a rebound over Rawlings at 4:01 of the second stanza.
Austin Block hammered the puck into Rawlings' chest and it trickled out to Dan Correale on the near post. Correale tried to gather his own rebound, but the puck bounced back out to Block and he lifted over an outstretched Rawlings for the 1-0 lead.
New Hampshire capitalized on the momentum and scored 44 seconds later off a turnover from junior Cody Ferriero in Northeastern's end. Kevin Goumas lifted his stick, stripped the puck and raced down the right side. Goumas hit Eric Knodel in stride and took advantage of a perfect screen on Rawlings by burying a top-shelf wrister at 4:45 for the two-goal advantage, 2-0.
The Huskies responded on the ensuing exchange on a blue-collar goal at 7:25 of the second period to cut the Wildcats' deficit in half.
Freshman Colton Saucerman kept a rimmed puck in the zone and threw pack towards DeSmith from the top of the right circle. Roy rushed in and pounced on the carom, forcing the puck to jostle loose in the crease. Saponari staffed the left post and threw the puck over the goal line to make it a 2-1 affair.
As the second period wound down, Saponari was sent off for a hooking penalty with nine seconds to go to give UNH a 1:51 power play to start the third stanza.
Northeastern did a good job killing off the first portion, but John Henrion made it a 3-1 game after potting a power play goal with just five seconds left on the Saponari infraction.
Connor Hardowa shot the puck from the right dot, but Ferriero batted it out of the air to break it up. Unfortunately for NU, the disc ended up on Goumas' stick to set up Henrion all alone for the one-timer at 1:46.
The Huskies had their opportunity to inch back into the game after UNH committed penalties at 4:17, 6:33 and 14:45 of the third, but the Wildcats' top-ranked penalty-killing unit in the country rose to the occasion and snuffed out any NU chance.
Head coach Jim Madigan pulled Rawlings with 2:14 to play in regulation for the extra attacker, but New Hampshire kept the Huskies off the board to cap the 3-1 win.
This Monday, Northeastern will enter its 61st-consecutive Beanpot Tournament when the Huskies take on No. 11 Boston University in the first semifinal at the TD Garden. Monday's game will be broadcast live on NESN at 5 p.m.